My husband is a a bit of a genealogy junkie. Usually during the quieter time of year, say, the holidays and throughout the month of January, he can usually be found in his office, researching family history.
One day he came into the room where I was working and said, “Did you know that you come from royalty?”
(He’s asking me this question? Of course I’m a princess!)
Turns out, a member of my family was some type of British duke way back in the 1200s and our royal line, while not that of the Windsors, was pretty impressive.
Family lore has it that another ancestor of mine signed the Declaration of Independence. My husband didn’t believe that one for a long time, until recently, when he was able to make an obscure connection to another family line.
I guess my grandma was right all along.
All of these genealogical revelations have made me think about family history. When did our people come to America? What motivated my ancestor to get involved with the founding of our country? What were some of the stories that shaped my ancestors? And when did we stop being royalty?
If we are Christ-followers, we have a more important family history—our connection to Jesus. And if we are parents, we need to share the significance of that heritage with our kids.
We’ve been tracing David’s instruction to Solomon throughout 1 Chronicles. We’ve seen how David affirmed Solomon’s giftings and encouraged him to do the work God had called him to do. Now, in 1 Chronicles 29, we find David emphasizing the importance of family history.
First, let me set the scene. David has already spent hours and hours instructing Solomon about how to build the temple. He’s laid out specific instruction about the construction and importance of God’s house as a place of worship. As Matthew Henry puts it, “David has said what he had to say to Solomon. But he had something more to say to the congregation before he parted with them.”
Here in chapter 29, David addresses the entire assembly, leaders in the church at that time (see v. 6). After recounting all of the gold, silver, and precious gems required to make God a fitting house and charging the church leaders to give abundantly to the Lord’s work, David prays an amazing prayer (for the full prayer, read 1 Chronicles 29:10-19).
These words give me pause every time I read them:
“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” (1 Chron. 29:13-15)
David is about to head to his heavenly home (in fact, he dies at the end of this chapter), but before he does, he prays this humble prayer and asks a simple question: who are we? It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but it’s an important one because it reminds the people gathered together and, especially, Solomon, that we are nothing apart from the Lord.
Parents, know this: any family legacy you have received or that you may pass on to your children is not of yourself—it is a gift from God. And any financial gain you may have, any amount of respect, any degree behind your name . . . all of it comes from the hand of God.
Proper perspective. That’s what this is about. Our humble thanks to God, our open hand toward any of his gifts, speaks volumes to our kids. We cannot ever be fooled into thinking that our blessings are from anything that we have done. David reminds us that all of this will quickly be gone because our lives are fleeting.
Perhaps your family legacy is one you’d rather put behind you. I think these words can also be an encouragement to you to build a new legacy—one that honors God above all things and recognizes His gifts in your life. You have a new opportunity to build a godly legacy for your children.
And if you have been raised with a godly legacy, David’s words remind us to take great care with that. Yes, we are nothing; God is everything. And it’s our responsibility to continue a godly heritage in our homes. Don’t neglect that!
Tell your family stories and remind your children of God’s blessing, favor, and protection in your lives. And remind your children of who you are and where you have come from.
What legacy will you leave?